Raccoon (and Owl!) Under the Trees for Christmas

Our wildlife clinic in Bayside, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, is open every day of the year, including each holiday. There has never been a day when it wasn’t good that we were here.  This year on Christmas we admitted a very badly injured Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) who’s suffering we were able to end, and we returned to their free and wild lives a Western Screech-owl (Megascops kennicottii), who’d been hit by a car a week before the holiday but luckily had no traumatic injuries and recovered quickly, and a Raccoon (Procyon lotor) who’d been admitted as a young orphan months ago.

In 2016, at our wildlife clinic in Bayside, we raised nearly 30 orphaned Raccoons (Procyon lotor), from tiny neonatal babies who were still a week or more from opening their eyes, to juveniles orphaned or lost after leaving the den. Now, at the beginning of winter, most of these orphans have been released. We have two late season babies – much later than usual – who will be in care for another few weeks before they’re ready.

This Raccoon was admitted in early summer, a young female, just a few weeks old. Right at the time when her similarly aged cohorts in care were being released, she was discovered to have an active infection that was causing her feet to become raw and swollen. She was not going to like treatment at all. We isolated her from the others and put her on a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. Soon she was looking much better, and each day she snarled and struggled (thanks welder’s gloves!) against the indignities of wound treatment, medicine, and loathsome human hands! After 10 days, her symptoms were healed, her appetite returned and her determination undiminished. We took her off meds and held her for a week to be certain that she was recovered. That week ended on Christmas Day.

Into the wild, a place she had never really left…

Apparently other raccoons like this river too… a few footprints of her colleagues were seen at the scene.

The Western Screech-owl is returned to a site very close to where he was found.

A last fleeting glimpse before he’s gone back into the wild night.

Your support makes this work possible. Your support gave the Western Screech-owl and Released on Christmas a second chance. Your support gave that Northern Flicker a painless end to a horrible accident caused by our built world. We chase these successes around a world that often seems to care not even the tiniest amount about the suffering it causes. Your support proves that appearance false. Thank you for your love for the Wild. Thank you for being a part of this life-saving work.

all photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X


It’s a Thin Line Between Town and Bay

It’s a thin line, between Town and Bay
It’s a thin line, between Town and Bay

It’s nine o’clock in the morning
and we’re just getting in –
we open up the front door
and a new day begins.
Check the pools, ‘cuz it
rained all night, but they’re okay.
Feed the birds, get the meds out
and plan the day

And then the phone rings – yeah the phone rings and
there’s a “shorebird” on the ground
“got a broken leg
or something, but too big
for me to help.”
So we drive on over, to the western edge of town
where the bottoms and the bay
look the same, cuz there’s water all around

It’s a thin line between Town and Bay
It’s a thin line between Town and Bay

The strongest bird in the world
could be the weakest bird in the world
if the place isn’t right
A Common Loon is the toughest in the sea
but on land, can’t do anything right.
Stuck on the ground just half mile from
everything good that helps her thrive.
So close to home but so far away
If she doesn’t get help, here she’ll die.

We treat her in our hospital and soon
she’s in our pool
She’s looking good and when we try to catch her
she makes us feel like a fool.
Check her blood work, and her body mass
She’s a beauty, sure and strong
We take her the extra mile
to the Bay shore,
when she’s free she sings her song

It’s a thin line between Town and Bay
It’s a thin line between Town and Bay*


It’s a thin line between between life and death, between freedom and despair between success and failure. Your support is the only thing that keeps us afloat. Thank you.



Thank You 2016 Volunteers!

Last Saturday we held our 4th Annual Rent Party and Volunteer Appreciation show! 2016 was a tough year and without our volunteer staff we would not have been able to provide direct care to over 1o00 wild neighbors as well as consult on thousands of more cases resulting in humane conflict resolution between the wild and society.

Volunteers for Humboldt Wildlife Care Center work long hours doing many thankless tasks (Thank You!). Over the course of our year we treat some of the most dignified and respected beings in a universe of beings, from Fox Sparrows to Grey Foxes, from Wigeons to Pigeons, yet the daily tasks remain largely focused on food and its aftermath – dishes, laundry and cleaning up poop!

And all of this very earthy work is balanced on the other side by the joys and sorrows that are as integral and as natural a part of helping injured and orphaned wild animals as nutrition, wound treatment, and proper housing. Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators become well-versed in them all. Each year we celebrate the dedication, the strength and the generosity of our volunteer staff. And we invite the public to join us. Not only did we give our volunteers a great night, but with your help we raised over $200!

This year’s Volunteer Appreciation show was special in that we were able to hold our event in a  new performance/art space in Old Town Eureka, Synapsis Nova, directed by longtime performer, dancer, producer, poor person’s advocate, artist of many disciplines, and all around huge supporter of Bird Ally X and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, Leslie Castellano.
Each year Leslie helps us put this show on, and we are very grateful for her generosity and general just being a fantastic person!

We had a terrific show, opened by past BAX intern and current biologist working on watershed restoration, Lauryl McFarland, who performed a delightful and poignant song accompanying herself on ukele.

EPIC forest advocate, Rob DiPerna performed a few songs! Rob has a fantastic voice and a real love for music’s capacity to engage the issues of our times! Rob has performed at our show 3 years in a row now! Thank you Rob! 

Aerial Dancer Jessica Rubin takes to the skies!

Leslie Castellano in flight!

The Neighbors – King Crimson and Jonathan Richman blast into a furious exploration of Thelonious Monk’s approach to composition. (not kidding! wow!)

Local improvisational orchestra, Medicine Baul, also played, but no photographs exist! Nonetheless, Medicine Baul has played all four years at our annual Rent Party/Volunteer Appreciation Show and we appreciate them, their support and the crazy ways in which they bring music to life! If you haven’t been to a show, go to the next one that comes! Seriously! They’re awesome!

Flying above us all – our mission.

Thank you to Synapsis Nova, Ramone’s Bakery, Wildberries Marketplace, and Moonstone Crossing Winery for supporting this event and our work, and helping us thank our volunteers!

And to our volunteers of 2016:  Without you we don’t even exist! Thank you! We look forward to more work, more sorrows, more learning and more joys in 2017!







Tonight at Richard’s Goat! Pints for Bird Ally X and screening of The Love Witch!

Tonight, from 6pm to close, Richard’s Goat Tavern and Tea Room in Arcata (401 I St) will be donating  dollar for every pint of Beer and Cider sold!

Showing tonight at the Miniplex at Richard’s Goat, a movie filmed in Arcata, the “hilarious, feminist homage to 1960s Italian thrillers,” The Love Witch.

We’ll be there with an information table! Stop by for a pint, help rescue wildlife and see a movie getting rave reviews from around the country that has our home as the setting!

Thank You to Richard’s Goat for offering this evening to benefit our wild neighbors! 


Two Area Sea Geese are Home Again.

So far this year, among the returning birds to Humboldt Bay, we’ve admitted several Brant (Branta bernicla) for care. In fact, we’ve treated more Brant this year, twelve, than we’d treated in 2012 (5), -13 (3), -14 (0), and -15 (1) combined. Brant are beautiful and strong sea geese, thriving on our winter coast. Even in illness they aren’t likely to be easily found. Most commonly, we find them on the beach, exhausted often so severely injured that the only care we can provide is a humane exit from suffering, a wing shattered and hanging, a leg bone fractured at multiple locations and useless now forever. Of the 21 Brant we’ve treated in the last five years, over 70% of them had injuries that were likely gunshot wounds.

Brant, like all ducks and geese, are legally hunted in season. While regulations vary by location, in most of California, two Brant can be killed legally each day for approximately five weeks each year, spread across November and December. Today, 15 December, is the last day of Brant season in Humboldt County in 2016. From now until Spring, when Brant depart for the high Arctic tundra where they’ll raise next year’s young, the hunting pressure is off. Now they only must rest, eat, loaf and become ready for the demands of migration and the workload of parenting.

These two geese were fortunate. Each was found on an ocean beach, one in Trinidad, the other near the Eel River’s mouth. Neither had been seriously injured. Both geese were exhausted and thin. A dietary staple of Brant is eelgrass (Zostera marina), especially after Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) have spawned, laying their eggs in the dense underwater plants from November through March along the California coast from Half Moon Bay to Crescent City’s harbor.

For the last two years, the commercial herring roe has been drastically below the average. In the 2015-16 season, in San Francisco Bay, the commercial catch was 66% of the allotted quota. While there have been large fluctuations in the Herring roe harvest over the last ten years, with ocean conditions largely the cause according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the warmer surface temperatures that reduce ocean productivity may become the new normal. Any long term depletion of the Pacific Herring population will also have a negative impact on the entire ecosystem that they feed.

After three weeks in care, both of these geese were cleared for release. We returned them to Humboldt Bay. We don’t know yet how Herring are doing this year. We don’t really know if conditions are improving. We only know that the pressures that industrial society has put on Mother Earth are a burden for all. We ask the fish and the geese and the field and the sea to provide us our food just as we poison and maim the world that sustains them. We have our work cut out for us. With your support we struggle each day to help our neighbors here at home on the one wild world we know. Thank you for being a part of this life-saving work.

brant-rel-12-6-2016-19-of-20Humboldt Bay is a refuge in a changing world. Preserving wild habitat will only become more urgent.

brant-rel-12-6-2016-16-of-20A last long look… for more information on opportunities to see Brant locally, visit the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge


all photos: Laura Corsiglia/Bird Ally X


Freedom’s Greetings

Each year we send a card to our mailing list offering our thanks and asking for continued support! Here’s this years! Expect it in your mailbox soon if you’re on our snail mail list! Freedom’s Greeting!


Season’s Greetings, Friend of Wildlife!

What a tumultuous year 2016 has been! Yet from a contentious US election to increasingly alarming news regarding our shared environment, through it all, we’ve been here, providing care for our region’s injured and orphaned wild animals, helping people peacefully resolve conflicts with wild animals, and our Wildlife Ambassador program has gone to grade schools and social clubs promoting co-existence with our wild neighbors.

In 2016, Bird Ally X put on workshops teaching important skills to the next generation of  wildlife rehabilitators, as well as worked with  state and national professional associations to provide continuing education opportunities for rehabilitators of every skill level.

It’s a tough world, ours – and preparation is required. Any raccoon can tell you that curiosity and learning are keys to a successful life.

Each year we raise over two dozen orphaned raccoons. Lacking a mother, their education falls on us.

So we prepare our young patients to forage for appropriate, natural food, become familiar with natural features, even find fish in a stream in our simulated river that runs through our raccoon housing!

Fruit is found on trees, insects in logs, fish in streams – this knowledge plus a healthy fear of human beings is our recipe for raccoon success. 

In some ways, we are in the same boat as our raccoon patients, struggling to live right, facing a separation from Mother Earth that we didn’t ask for yet need to cross in order to survive and thrive.

Your support allows us to teach and learn. Each year our care improves. Each year we reach more people. Each year we strive for a better world, no matter who thinks they run the show, no matter what calamity surrounds us. No matter what fate we’ll share, little by little, with your support, we’ll continue to pay back our debt to the Wild.

Thank you for being here for us, our Wild Neighbors, and all those who love the Wild in 2016. We wish you a warm and beautiful holiday and a joyful New Year. We look forward to meeting our mission with your support in 2017.

In alliance with the Wild,

Bird Ally X and Humboldt Wildlife Care Center



Volunteer Appreciation/Rent Party!

Every year BAX honors our dedicated volunteers with a show and a party! And we invite everyone to come help us celebrate their devotion and love for our wild neighbors. Without our volunteers, our work wouldn’t be possible. Please come join us and also help us raise much needed funds to cover the cost of our rent!

Music by The Neighbors, Medicine Baul and Rob DiPerna! Dance and Aerial Dance perfrmed by Leslie Castellano and  Jessica Rubin! Poetry  too (from your host and HWCC director, Monte Merrick (that’s me))

Join us Saturday, December 10, in Old Town Eureka!